The Milk Myth: How Dairy Does More Harm Than Good Remember those iconic milk ads from back in the day? They featured high-profile celebs from Michael Jordan to Dr. Phil, Batman to Beyoncé, sporting cute milk mustaches alongside that signature catchphrase—“got milk?” The campaign was huge, working its way seamlessly into pop culture. It also reinforced what our own families were telling us at the dinner table. “Milk does the body good,” or “Milk makes your bones strong.” Many people grew up sure of that. But today, as we find more and more information on lactose and dairy products, one thing’s becoming clear: milk may not be the dietary hero we once thought it was.

Are We All Lactose Intolerant?

So… “got milk?” The answer to that age-old question is simple: Yes. A little too much, actually.

In fact, 75 percent of the world’s population can’t break down lactose—it’s a biological ability we lose after weaning because our bodies no longer need those complex nutrients. As adults, we don’t have the lactase enzymes necessary to break down those sugars. We’re not genetically built for it, and when we try to force it, that creates a whole new list of health complications.

The Problem with Milk

Most people have heard of the painful gastrointestinal issues, headaches and fatigue experienced by those with lactose intolerance, but milk consumption has been linked to other health concerns as well, like increased rates of type 1 diabetes, infertility and ovarian cancer in women and prostate cancer for men. Some of these symptoms are due largely in part to the excess sex hormones and contaminants found in milk, which can compromise the immune and central nervous systems. Worse yet, milk doesn’t actually help prevent osteoporosis… “So, you’re saying it can have all these negative effects, and it’s not even making my bones stronger?” Yep. That’s exactly what we’re saying.

The Milk Myth: How Dairy Does More Harm Than Good

The Leafy Green Alternative

A diet rich in a variety of leafy greens (kale, arugula, beet greens, spring onions, collard greens, broccoli, etc.) can provide all the calcium needed in place of milk. These veggies are also amazing sources of potassium, fiber and antioxidants. There’s a reason vegetables are the base of the flipped food pyramid, and in the case of leafy greens, not only are they incredibly good for you, but they don’t have any added fats, cholesterol or animal proteins.

The Non-Dairy Milk Alternative

The world of non-dairy milks can be a little tricky, but once you get the hang of navigating your options, it’s a breeze. Most importantly, keep an eye out for non-GMO, plant-based milks with minimal additives, sugars and oils. Then, it’s down to individual preference and your nutritional needs. But keep in mind that everything comes with its pros and cons, so choose the type of milk alternative that’s best for you. Maybe you like the sound of nutrient-heavy almond milk, protein-packed hemp milk or maybe calcium-rich pea milk is more your speed. You get to choose.

And remember, it all comes down to what you feel your body needs. Do a little bit of Googling. Walk down some different aisles at the grocery store. Find your own dairy alternatives, ones that fit your unique tastes and lifestyle, because at the end of the day, this is about you.